If having a bizarre life makes for good comedy, Christopher Titus might be one of the finest funny men to ever hold a microphone. Raised by a mentally ill mother who later committed suicide, he also experienced the suicide of his sister, a shitty father/son relationship, and later worked through a divorce and drug addiction. It's like he said in his special Neverlution, "If anyone should be forced by law to take anti-depressants, it's me. Instead, I chose to be an anti-depressant." That's probably putting it mildly. All the crises in his life not only made him an anti-depressant, using his tragedy as fodder for his set has made him goddamn hilarious. That includes his riffs on taboo topics like wanting a blacker president or late-term abortions.
You'll get your chance to see exactly what we mean when Titus draws plenty of inappropriate laughter out of you at his headlining gig February 7th through 9th at the Irvine Improv. We couldn't miss the chance to catch up to Titus before the big weekend, talking about the hilarious film he's raising money for, his definition of what he finds "retarded" these days, and attempted to figure out where his limits are. Spoiler alert: he has none.
OC Weekly (Ali Lerman): I saw the trailer for "Special Unit" and it sincerely looks hysterical. How did you get the idea for the film?
Christopher Titus: I have a friend named Mike Aronin who has cerebral palsy and he's a very funny cat but Hollywood doesn't take him seriously. It's weird how Hollywood has this nod like, "oh we love the disabled," but when it comes down to doing anything with them, everyone gets afraid. I was driving down the road and was thinking about a handicapped detective and I burst out laughing. It just came to me, "The Shield" with handicapped people, and that's exactly what I came up with. If the premise makes you laugh, imagine what the movie will be. So I spent the last couple of years writing that script, it's really funny, and now I'm raising money for it. I think people take it the wrong way like I'm making fun of disabled people but it's just the opposite.
People need to loosen up but I bet there will be some PC group shouting about their "outrage."
Yes! I agree 100%! Like, it's fine for every culture to make fun of themselves, the Jews make fun of themselves, every black comic in the world has a movie where they make fun of black culture or the hood, and it's OK and no one gets offended. As much as disabled people take on in their own world and the crap they have to deal with, all of the sudden it's offensive? I never write something just to make money because that never works. If you do something really good, the money will chase you. I'm not worried about the money with this because, you know what it is? You know when you're in a mall and a dude in a wheelchair starts rolling towards you and instinctively you kind of look to the side like, I don't want to look at them and stare? This movie is on the other side of that so hopefully it just makes people look at them and give them a nod like, what's up man! If you watch my last special, I use the word retard and that bit is about my buddy Mike. Mike is an inspirational speaker, he works for the government, and he does stand-up. He does three jobs! That's not disabled! So I wrote this script and it's really funny and really wrong. My character is the biggest douchebag in the entire movie. Whether it was my TV show "Titus" or whether it's me writing a comedy bit on my mom's mental illness or pedophile crucifixions, whatever it is, I wish people would just trust me with what I do!
Well I trust that there are a few people in the media that you find "retarded" then yeah?
Ohhh yeah! It's weird because I used to be a Republican years ago because my dad was and as I got older and did the research, I really find that most of the people on the news are retarded. They don't know the facts, they're saying stuff without checking, and I just think the media is retarded. You can list them out station by station but I think TV news is just the most retarded thing in the world right now. Everything is terrorism to them. I talked about it in "Neverlution," that terrorists are basically someone who scares you and keeps you scared on a daily basis. That's what the news it. NBC, CBS, FOX, they are the terrorists that keep you scared on a daily basis. I love that you said that, I couldn't agree more. Also if done well, I feel like there are no topics or words that should be off limits.
I call that "hard funny." It's when you first start laughing and then you catch yourself like, "oh god, can I laugh at that?" But after you've already laughed. That's "hard funny." When it comes to dick jokes and stuff like that, there are so many other guys that are so great at that. Like, I think Dave Attell is a genius at it and there are certain guys that are so good at it, I don't even go into that world. Although, I've got a story in this show about my dad's E.D. problem. My father and I didn't get along very well except for when we'd go to car shows. One time were walking though the show and he just blurts out, "Eh! I can't get hard anymore!" I guess back before Viagra you had to inject some drug directly into your penis! [Laughs.] And we're out in public and he just starts telling me this horrible story! I can't do the whole thing because it's ridiculous but, I did it a few weeks ago and there was this guy who had his head down on the table and was like, "Stop! Stop!" [Laughs.] It makes me sad that after all of this time trying to write funny stuff, I do this bit about my dad's E.D. problem and people are losing their minds!
I like how you're not just joke, stop, joke, stop. It's a great skill to be a storyteller.
I found out a long time ago that the audience will go anywhere if you lead them the right way. You can't just dive into it. It's almost like walking them down this road that's really nice and clean. You're talking to them but the next thing they know, they're in a dark forest with eyes looking at them and are like, "where the fuck are we?" Then you lead them out of it. As long as you lead them and they don't realize where they are, that's when I've done it the best. When I talked about my mom's suicide for the first time people were just dead silent like, what are you talking about? [Laughs.] But it really does work.
It's a gift I tell ya! I know you're filming a new special this year so will that be the material you'll be doing in Irvine?
Yeah. This one is called "Angry Pursuit of Happiness" and it'll be filmed in September as my sixth special. Irvine is one of my favorite clubs to work in because there's been so much great comedy on that stage that I believe the club just soaked it up into those walls. If you saw my last special "Voice in My Head," this is 100% new. It'll be a 90-minute show and I actually do my own eulogy at the end.
OK, that's not morbid at all.
Yeah. [Laughs.] I got the idea when my uncle spoke at my father's funeral and my uncle is, ummm, a little serial killery. Yeah, let's just call him that. He basically got up at dad's funeral and told this story about changing a woman's tire and how she thought he was going to rape her, it was just horrible! We're all just sitting there looking at each other like, what the fuck is he talking about? He just kept going and it didn't have anything to do with my dad so basically, his eulogy was an alibi. [Laughs.]
Well you do twist stuff up in a funny bow so I can only imagine...
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Oh yeah. In the new show I'm also doing a bit called "arm the children" and it's a tribute to the NRA. It's dark and really funny. Nothing I do is that important but if in the middle of the funny I can get a point across, then I've done my job!
Christopher Titus performs at the Irvine Improv on February 7th- 9th, 71 Fortune Drive Irvine, CA 92618., (949) 854-5455. For tickets go to www.Improv.com. For more info, check out his website www.ChristopherTitus.com.com, listen to his podcast "Titus Podcast," and follow him on Twitter @TitusNation.